Medicaid planning is taking the necessary steps now to ensure that if the need for long-term care should arise, including in-home care, nursing home, or assisted living, that Medicaid can assist you with covering those costs.
Medicaid planning requires you to follow specific rules that if not followed properly, can disqualify you from benefits for a “penalty period.”
Smith Strong’s Medicaid planning program is not a mechanism to give away all of your assets to ensure you qualify for Medicaid, but rather an overall planning strategy that follows the rules of law so you can legally retain what you need to maintain your lifestyle and become eligible for Medicaid without having to lose your lifetime of assets.
We invite you to attend one of our estate planning workshops to identify how you can protect all you’ve worked for and still be eligible to receive benefits under federal guidelines.
Gifting Away Assets
For gifting away assets, there is a “Safe Harbor” for assets that were gifted away more than 5 years before applying for Medicaid. Basically, upon applying for Medicaid, Virginia only looks back 5 years or 60 months to see if any assets were given away. Assuming there are no gifts made within the 5-year period, any gifts made more than 5 years ago, will be ignored for the asset eligibility test for Medicaid. This is referred to as the 5-year lookback rule.
Assisting Individuals and Families
Smith Strong attorneys are able to assist individuals and families in developing long-term care plans that may avoid depleting their assets should they become ill and need long-term care. Also, for those individuals who are already in a nursing home, despite the lack of planning, our law firm can still help families preserve some assets and still qualify for Medicaid benefits before their resources are exhausted.
Things to Keep in Mind
Keep in mind that Medicaid planning is very fact-specific and not all planning techniques work in every situation. Before giving away or spending down any of your assets, contact our office to attend our free workshop, followed by a free private consultation to discuss Medicaid benefits and to review your planning options.
AN OVERVIEW OF OUR TRUST-BASED ESTATE PLANNING OPTION
At Smith Strong, we believe, after the will-based plan, clients should consider adding the Living Trust. But what, exactly does that look like?
Our trusts are designed to work in real life for real people—you still file taxes the same way, use your money the same way, and you still have total access and control.
Our law firm's Living Trust planning includes:
- Revocable Living Trust, with Beneficiary Trusts to Protect Your Children’s Inheritance: Our plans are designed so the right people will inherit your assets—in the right amounts, at the right times, and on the right terms. By adding a Living Trust to your estate plan your family avoids court conservatorship, guardianship, and probate proceedings, and helps reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes for a married couple. Our cutting-edge Children/Heirs Trusts that spring to life upon your death, protecting your beneficiaries' inheritance from spouses, divorces, lawsuits, creditors, loss of government needs-based benefits and additional estate taxes when they pass their inheritance to the next generation.
- Trust flowchart: Our Smith Strong vision-clarifier provides the visual summary of the key provisions of your trust, so you know exactly how your trust works.
- Pour-over will: A backup to the trust; any assets outside of the trust upon death simply pour into your trust upon death—so you avoid probate, even on the assets you forgot to put in your trust before you passed away. This will also name guardians of your minor children, if any.
- Durable power of attorney: Authorizes your agent to manage any property outside the trust and enter contracts with care providers, if you become incapacitated and to take certain critical, last minute estate planning actions.
- Property agreement: For married couples, this can avoid needless capital gains taxes and can help fully utilize each spouse's estate tax exemption.
- Advance health care directive: Authorizes your agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Also includes a living will, “to pull the plug (or not),” withdrawing life support if in a permanent vegetative state with no hope of resuscitation.
- HIPAA authorization: Permits access to your health information when the need arises, without having to go to court, particularly helpful for your medical agent.
- Emergency Access: We maintain digital records of all estate planning documents, so we can ensure your family has access no matter where you are in the world. Attorney Van Smith recently faxed and emailed documents to family of an incapacitated client while they were travelling in South Africa.
PLUS: THE "SMITH STRONG ESTATE PLANNING BINDER"
The Living Trust "estate planning binder" includes electronic and paper copies of your estate planning documents, tabbed and organized with your financial documents (as described above) as well as the following items:
- Title transfer instructions: Most firms have you sign your plan, tuck it under your arm, and off you go—but not at Smith Strong. We have you come back for a funding meeting to ensure the plan works when you need it to. We provide guidelines and instruction letters for transferring your assets into your Living Trust. At your funding meeting, we also sign all deeds transferring your Virginia real estate to your trust.
- Trust certification: Helpful summary of your Living Trust in case a financial institution requests it when transferring assets to your trust.
- Personal Effects Section: An ongoing list you may add to of whom, specifically, you wish to receive certain property items (no more post-it notes on your stuff!).
- Financial Documents: If something happened to you would your child or financial agent know where to look to gather all of your assets? At Smith Strong, in addition to your estate plan itself, we confidentially organize your financial data, so that we can assist your next of kin in knowing exactly where to look when the need arises.
PLUS: OUR CLIENT CARE PROGRAM
Our services can go far beyond just setting up the Living Trust, if you wish. Our lawyers and firm's resources are also available to you through:
- Free phone calls: To help you and to answer your questions.
- Free plan-review meeting: Typically, every three years, to make sure your estate plan is up-to-date with any law changes and newer planning strategies; and continues to accurately reflect your planning wishes.
- Free workshops: We welcome your family back as you age to ensure your family understands your plan and knows what to do when the time comes. We also update our clients on new services and strategies, law changes, advanced estate planning, and various financial and tax planning subjects.
- Free newsletter: Published monthly, you receive our founder Van Smith’s legendary monthly newsletter, printed and mailed to your home.
- Free annual calendar magnet: Founding attorney Van Smith’s Smith Strong calendar magnet mailer is sure to impress visitors of your home—even if it only makes it to the garage fridge.
- Specially discounted "upgrade" packages: If laws change, you will receive a free consult and discounts for any revisions.
- Free consultation with your successor trustee upon your disability or death: To help assure your trust will be properly implemented when the time comes. We also offer discounted fees for estate administration.
- Free consult and 25% off our rates for any family member: Whether they need help in family law, criminal defense, business planning, litigation, or estate planning of their own—at Smith Strong, we want to serve as your family’s long-term legal advisor.
All of our estate plans are prepared for a fixed fee, quoted in advance at the private vision meeting, following our workshop, and agreed to by you in writing before any work is done. No surprise fees or charges, ever. Payment plans are available. And we welcome the opportunity to serve our community, including teachers, military service members, and first responders.
The Next Step
Our free workshop will teach you “the rest of the story” when it comes to estate planning. At Smith Strong, we want our clients, regardless of the estate plan they choose, to understand each option and make an educated choice. We invite you to attend our free estate planning workshop. By attending, you (and spouse) will receive a free private consultation at our law office. Call us today at 804.325.1245.
If you want to schedule a private consultation or attend our free estate planning workshop, we invite you to call our firm at 804.325.1245. Our firm’s estate planning division is conveniently located right off I-64 at the Staples Mill Road exit, at 3111 Northside Ave, Suite 102, Richmond, Virginia 23228, handicap accessible with easy convenient parking.